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UN chief slams North Korea nuclear test, Security Council meets

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called North Korea’s fourth nuclear test “deeply troubling” and “profoundly destabilizing for regional security,” and diplomats said the Security Council would have to consider new sanctions steps.

“This test once again violates numerous Security Council resolutions despite the united call by the international community to cease such activities,” the United Nations chief told reporters. “It is also a grave contravention of the international norm against nuclear testing.”

“I demand the DPRK (North Korea) cease any further nuclear activities and meet its obligations for verifiable denuclearization,” he said.

North Korea said it had successfully conducted a test of a miniaturized hydrogen nuclear device on Wednesday morning, marking a significant advance in the isolated state’s strike capabilities and ringing alarm bells in Japan and South Korea.

The 15-nation Security Council was holding an emergency meeting to weigh a possible response to what diplomats described as Pyongyang’s latest provocation. The meeting was requested by the United States and Japan.

“We plan to work with other countries so that a resolution with strong content can be adopted at the U.N. Security Council as swiftly as possible,” Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

Japan is a temporary member of the council for the next two years.

Several Western diplomats said that if the latest North Korean nuclear test was confirmed, the United States, European council members and Japan would seek to expand existing U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang.

Pyongyang has been under U.N. sanctions due to its nuclear weapons program since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.

The U.N. blacklist includes 20 entities and 12 individuals, as well as an international ban on the export of luxury goods and missile and nuclear technology to North Korea. Individuals are barred from international travel and the assets of all entities and persons on the blacklist are to be frozen.

One senior Western diplomat said possible additions to the U.N. sanctions list could be foreign representatives of the North Korean organization that administers its nuclear developments and people linked to one of its key procurement companies.

“Possible designations of individuals and senior officials linked to the nuclear program could be beneficial as it would raise the profile of North Korean procurement and limit the travel of senior North Korean officials,” the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

“All of this depends on the appetite of the council, particularly the Chinese position,” he said. “There are more things we could do in terms of listing more people, brokers and intermediaries, broaden out the circle of people on the list.”

Traditionally China has supported the expansion of sanctions against its ally and neighbor North Korea over nuclear tests and missile launches, though it has pushed hard to ensure the measures are not what it considers excessively harsh.

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